Claire's blog

New research shows trade unions getting to grips with climate change

Despite being faced with many immediate battles to fight, it is to the credit of many trade unions that they are also addressing the long term wellbeing of their members, and of future generations, by introducing policies to tackle climate change. A new report providing the first ever overview of the climate change policies of 17 major UK trade unions could help raise wider awareness of this important work.

The author, Catherine Hookes, is studying for a masters degree at Lund University, Sweden, and her research drew on a comprehensive web review of policies in these unions, going into more depth for many of the unions, interviewing key figures and activists. The research was facilitated by the Campaign against Climate Change.

For anyone within the trade union movement concerned about climate change (or for campaigners wishing to engage with trade unions on these issues) this report is of practical use in understanding the context, the diversity of different trade unions' approaches, and the progress that has been made in the campaign for a just transition to a low carbon economy.

Concerned about climate change? Then why is New Scientist cosying up with Shell?

"It's time we all burst our carbon bubbles" declared New Scientist magazine in a leader published on 5 July, extolling the virtues of divesting one's current account, pension etc. from fossil fuels. We couldn't agree more. And so we'd suggest that New Scientist puts its money where its mouth is, and breaks sponsorship ties with Shell.

The annual exhibition 'New Scientist Live', taking place this autumn, sees Shell returning as a sponsor. And not just any sponsor. Shell's logo will be splashed all over the 'Earth Zone' covering life on earth and indeed climate change. In one sense it is extremely appropriate for the issue of climate change to be sponsored by Shell (see also the proposal that hurricanes should be named after fossil fuel companies).

But Shell's business model is contributing directly to a shocking decline in the biodiversity that the 'Earth Zone' is celebrating. A recent in-depth study by investors Schroder looked at the different elements that need to change if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. The overall conclusion is clear - climate change is accelerating and we are on course to blow our 2C budget soon (let alone the aim of keeping temperature rise to a less dangerous 1C). What was also illuminating in the report was the difference between the elements. For example, renewable capacity has been increasing, but not fast enough: it is on a trajectory consistent with a 3.1C increase, electric vehicle progress is less positive on a 4.1C trajectory. Coal burning is falling so there's a more positive message there: it's consistent with keeping to 2.2C. Oil and gas production however is rated as on track for a 7.8C temperature increase.

We expect that visitors to New Scientist Live will learn about Shell's investment in green energy (one percent of its total business). Shell also likes to highlight its work on energy efficiency. One thing that will probably not be highlighted is that at Shell's recent AGM, a motion was rejected to set emissions targets in line with the Paris climate agreement, with the board arguing that this was "not in the best interests of the company".

Election results in - what now for climate action?

Waking up to a result many said could never happen, the future of the country is thrown open to new possibilities.

Young people turned out to vote in record numbers. Now politicians need to respond to those who have the biggest stake in securing a secure future on a liveable planet.

We don't know how national politics will play out in the coming days and months.

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